The Mental Health of a Sexual Assault Survivor | ZwavelStream Clinic
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The Mental Health of a Sexual Assault Survivor

In today’s climate, it’s impossible to ignore the prevalence of sexual assault and its effects on the women involved. It’s a topic of extreme importance, and one that needs to be addressed on a global scale if we wish to change things. But let’s first look at the definition of sexual assault because it’s more than violent acts. Any sexual act performed without clear consent is taken as sexual assault. When the sexual advances are unwanted and unwelcome, it’s assault. And it’s this unwanted sexual touching that can lead to immense trauma for those involved.

How it hurts

As mentioned above, ‘unwanted’ is the key word in cases of sexual assault. For example, sexual harassment includes a variety of behaviours that don’t involve outright sex but is still considered a form of assault. This is because sexual harassment involves intimidation and coercion that crosses the line into what’s described as unwanted advances of a sexual nature. This type of behaviour – whether implicit or explicit – undoubtedly has serious consequences for the victim. For that reason, the real tragedy of sexual assault is that the pain of the act lingers long after any physical trace of it has disappeared. This doesn’t bode well for the mental health of the victims. The long-term emotional and psychological effects include intense shame, anxiety, depression, self-blame, nightmares, fear, social isolation, and the inability to trust yourself and others. Substance abuse is also common among victims of sexual assault, as well as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and even promiscuity. Survivors have to deal with possible physical consequences as well. With all of this to contend with, it’s no wonder that survivors of sexual assault face a hard road to recovery and require as much support as possible.

Getting help

The impact of sexual assault depends on several things, including the type of assault, the perpetrator’s relationship to the victim, and who the victim is as an individual. Different people deal with trauma in different ways, and recovery will center on factors like age, personality, social influences, etc. With that being said, one commonality among all cases of surviving sexual assault is that it cannot be done in isolation. Although, with denial and rationalization being a common reaction where survivors often blame themselves, it’s rarely the case where early intervention is possible. Instead, withdrawing into shame, anger, fear, and guilt creates fertile ground for PTSD, anxiety, and depression to develop unhindered after an assault. That is why reaching out for help is crucial to end the cycle of damaging effects we’ve listed above. At ZwavelStream Clinic we provide a safe space of treatment and support, so if you’re a survivor ready to fight back then please contact us today.

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